Profile: Red baron - Peter Brookes, MD and head of communications, Manchester United TV

For Peter Brookes, boss of Manchester United TV, last month's interrogation of Joel Glazer was riveting stuff.

The son of billionaire new club owner Malcolm was facing the cameras for his first interview since the controversial takeover, but it was not with the BBC, ITN or another news agency - the club's own station had the exclusive coverage. And the team did not go easy on Glazer.

'Not even Paxman could have come up with more probing questions than we did,' insists a jubilant Brookes on the no-punches-pulled interview. For Black Country-born Brookes - a 'say it as you see it' 48-year-old who very much considers himself a journalist - that interview was just the kind of splash he loves.

The former contributor to ill-fated newspaper Today was also a news editor on TV-am and Meridian, where he worked on stories such as the Lockerbie disaster and Tiananmen Square.

His current role at the helm of MUTV evokes other memories of a career rooted in journalism - Brookes started as a trainee reporter at West Midlands Press before joining Beacon Radio, and later spent time as a TV presenter on Central TV.

'I'm still a journalist at heart. You'll easily see me pacing the MUTV news corridors just as much as sat in my office, growing the station,' says the West Bromwich Albion fan, who is married and has four children. 'After the Joel interview we were bombarded with requests for clips, and it's been seen by millions, all with our logo on the screen.'

Brookes' role demands constant involvement with the club's PR team while maintaining an element of editorial integrity. 'If we were just a PR arm of Manchester United and didn't debate, I'm not sure how attractive a product we would be,' he says.

'We've fallen out with Alex Ferguson because Stuart Pearce made comments about the team's performance that he didn't agree with. On the other hand I'm on the phone every day to the club's head of comms, Phil Townsend, to organise putting players on air.'

MUTV broadcasts for six hours a day to its 100,000 UK subscribers (the channel has a potential global audience of 80 million through platforms such as Sky). When it launched in 1999 it did not show any games, but Brookes has since signed deals to televise Premiership, Champions' League and - from this season - full-length FA Cup matches, albeit on a time delay.

As the new season approaches, MUTV has just finished broadcasting live games of United's tour of Asia - a major club fan base for the MUTV brand to exploit.

The channel, naturally, has unrivalled access to players. With its retained PR firm Eulogy! it was able, for example, to fly Denis Irwin over for its Ireland launch in 2001. Brookes says stars were awkward at first, but now accept it as part of their off-pitch duties.

'We have broken several big stories,' he claims. 'Ferguson announcing his retirement (on which he later reneged) and Roy Keane re-signing to the club were both scoops.'

These, as well as new player signings, are the kind of stories that make Brookes' day. 'The important thing is that players aren't told what to say: they do their own thing,' he asserts.

He is irritated by what he claims is blatant plagiarism of MUTV interviews at the hands of national sports journalists. 'I've seen journalists transcribing in front of our monitors, only to publish the story without so much of a mention of us,' he moans, adding: 'The regional press are much better - they credit us.'

Brookes is not protective to the point of missing a marketing opportunity though - he does grant tabloids an exclusive if they promise to print MUTV's subscription number.

As far as 'irksome' journalists are concerned, Brookes gives the impression he often has the last laugh: 'Fans will read a story in the papers but phone in and say they already heard the story through us first. That works wonders for our word-of-mouth PR.'

CV 1973: Trainee reporter, West Midlands Press 1977: News editor, Beacon Radio 1984: News editor and presenter, Central TV 1988: News editor, TV-am 1992: Night news editor, Today 1992: News editor, Meridian TV 1997: Bureau chief, L!ve TV 1999: Managing director and head of comms, MUTV

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